Is Facebook’s New Trending Topics Feature the Key to #Hashtag Adoption?
Today, Facebook rolled out a feature that may look familiar if you spend as much time on Twitter as I do: Trending Topics.
These trending topics will be personalized to include users’ interests, as well as trending topics network-wide. When people click on a topic, they’ll see relevant updates from friends and brand pages (a sign that advertisers will soon be able to purchase relevance in trending topics?).
This is the latest in a long line of features that Facebook has borrowed from Twitter over the last few years. From verified accounts to hashtags, and of course Instagram’s addition of video, shortly after the launch of Vine, Facebook has doubled down on features that Twitter has proved successful…but will it stick?
Last summer, when Facebook launched their hashtag feature, we took a look at the top 100 brands in the world, and how often they used hashtags during the first three weeks.
While adoption spiked initially and 26% of brand posts contained hashtags, but this adoption didn’t continue to increase, and further adoption didn’t increase. My assumption is that this is due to a missing component of discoverability: trending topics.
Twitter’s hashtags are great for following specific events and trends, but one of the largest values can be seen in the lefthand sidebar. Customized trending topics based on city, country, or global interests allows for more overarching discovery and topic identification.
Brands now have the ability to capitalize on these trending topics on Facebook as well, creating content based on what the current conversation is, and reaching users through these “reminders” in the trending topics tab, even if their own friends aren’t talking about that topic.
My assumption is that there’s an advertising benefit behind this decision: sponsored posts in trending topics has been a popular way for Twitter advertisers to reach targeted audiences, and Facebook – as we know – isn’t one to leave money on the table. For brands, the opportunity is ripe to double down on the topical advertising they’re already doing on Twitter, and simplify their strategy to include the same game plan on multiple networks…assuming this becomes an option that’s available to brands.